The Birth of Countertransference as an Ethics Issue with Scenes from the Recent Film "A Dangerous Method" May 18, 2012 -Presenters: Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D., and Alan Tjeltveit, Ph.D.Learning Objectives:1. You will learn about the history ofcountertransference, boundaries, self-reflection, and self-deception.2. You will see how they can lead to ethical lapses orfacilitate treatment.3. You will learn how to determine the appropriate use ofcountertransference.
• All proceeds from this continuing education in ethics workshop will be donated to PPF. PPF contributes educational grants to worthy psychology graduate students, helps fund Disaster Relief training, our Colleague Assistance Program and PPAs annual Workshops for the Public.• The proceeds to this workshop will go to the Dr. Stephen N. Berk Memorial Education Award .
Kerr’s 1993 Book “A Most Dangerous Method”Using Spielrein’s diary and letters including Jung’s letters toher, clinical psychologist and historian Kerr reconstructsSpielreins relationship with Jung and Freud, portraying heras an influential figure during their period of collaboration.His dense and scholarly book was made into the moresensationalized movie “A Dangerous Method.”
Inaccuracies in the Film• According to Speilrein’s diary, it is very likely that she and Jung had a sexual affair. It is very unlikely, however, that he spanked her, as shown in the film.• Otto Gross did contend that repression is a bad thing, and that transference should be used for the therapist’s advantage, which he saw as helping the patient. However, the film implies that he was a greater influence on Jung than he actually was.
Sabina Spielrein (СабинаНафтуловнаШпильрейн)Born 1885 into a family of Jewish doctors inRostov, Russia. One of her brothers, Isaac Spielreinwas a Soviet psychologist. Spielrein was married toPavelScheftel, a physician of Russian Jewishdescent. They had two daughters: Renate, born1912, and Eva, born 1924.
At age 19, Spielreinwas admitted in 1904 to theBurghölzli mental hospital near Zürich, for abouta year. While there, she established a deepemotional relationship with Jung who later washer medical dissertation advisor. The historianand psychoanalyst Peter Loewenberg argues thatthis was a sexual relationship, in breach ofprofessional ethics, and that it "jeopardized hisposition at the Burghölzli and led to his rupturewith Bleuler and his departure from theUniversity of Zurich”.
Jung’s Notes 1907“She could not sit at table without beingovercome by thoughts of defecation, and ifshe was reproached in any wayshe answeredby sticking out her tongue or . . . cries ofdisgust, and gestures of horror, because eachtime she had before her the vivid image of herfathers chastising hand, coupled with sexualexcitement, which immediately passed overinto ill-concealed masturbation.
• Spielfreins meal-time obsession was commonplace at the time, and unsurprising in a household that grotesquely suppressed any mention of natural functions.• Her mother managed to have the curriculum of her school changed specifically in order to prevent her daughter learning about sexual reproduction.
C. G. Jung 4 June 1909“Dear Professor Freud, …Spielreinis the person I wrote you about…Shewas, so to speak, my test case, for which reason Iremembered her with special gratitude andaffection. Since I knew from experience that shewould immediately relapse if I withdrew mysupport, I prolonged the relationship over theyears and in the end found myself morallyobliged, as it were, to devote a large measure offriendship to her, until I saw that an unintendedwheel had started turning, whereupon I finallybroke with her. She was, of course, systematicallyplanning my seduction, which I consideredinopportune. Now she is seeking revenge…”
Sigmund Freud 7 June 1909“Dear friend, Since I know you take a personal interest in the Sp. matterI am informing you of developments…I understood your telegram correctly, your explanationconfirmed my guess. Well, after receiving your wire I wroteFräulein Sp. a letter in which I affectedignorance, pretending to think her suggestion was that ofan over-zealous enthusiast. I said that since the matter onwhich she wished to see me was of interest chiefly tomyself, I could not take the responsibility of encouragingher to take such a trip and failed to see why she should putherself out in this way. It therefore seemed preferable thatshe should first acquaint me with the nature of herbusiness. I have not yet received an answer…”
Sigmund Freud 7 June 1909…This is, significantly, the first recorded reference to the term “countertransference.“Such experiences, though painful, arenecessary and hard to avoid. Without themwe cannot really know life and what we aredealing with. I myself have never been takenin quite so badly, but I have come very close toit a number of times and had a narrowescape…and the fact that I was ten yearsolder… saved me from similar experiences.But no lasting harm is done. They help us todevelop the thick skin we need and todominate counter-transference, which isafter all a permanent problem for us.”
C. G. Jung 21 June 1909“Dear Professor Freud, I have good news to report of my Spielrein affair. I took too black a view of things. After breaking with her 1 was almost certain of her revenge and was deeply disappointed only by the banality of the form it took. The day before yesterday she turned up at my house and had a very decent talk with me, during which it transpired that the rumour buzzing about me does not emanate from her at all. My ideas of reference, understandable enough in the circumstances, attributed the rumour to her, but I wish to retract this forthwith. Furthermore, she has freed herself from the transference in the best and nicest way and has suffered no relapse (apart from a paroxysm of weeping after the separation). Her intention to come to you was not aimed at any intrigue but only at paving the way for a talk with me…”
Sigmund Freud 30 June 1909“Dear friend, …Immediately after receiving your letter I wroteFräulein Sp. a few amiable lines, giving hersatisfaction, and today received an answer from her.Amazingly awkward—is she a foreigner by anychance?—or very inhibited, hard to read and hard tounderstand. All I can gather from it is that the mattermeans a great deal to her and that she is very much inearnest. Dont find fault with yourself for drawing meinto it; it was not your doing but hers. And the matterhas ended in a manner satisfactory to all. You havebeen oscillating, as I see, between the extremes ofBleuler and Gross…”
• Freud wrote just after hearing from Jung about his transference misadventure,A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men (1910), in it he describes rescue phantasies.• Sabina Spielrein used this idea of Freuds when she came to write her paper, Destruction as the cause of coming into being (1912), which is in large part based on her experience of her own analysis and her theories about it. Jung saw himself as rescuing her, she clearly saw him as her child.
• At the end of their affair she wrote in her journal, "he loves me because of the remarkable parallelism in our thoughts… I felt like a mother who only wanted the best for him.”• Sabina saw herself as the mother who bore him an imaginary child who was a small replica of him. They developed a shared phantasy of a child whom they called Siegfried.
Sabina, who had married in 1912 and now had a daughter, wrote to Jung saying she had given up this phantasy of Siegfried for the sake of her real daughter.Jung replied angrily:“Dear doctor, ...What you are calling killing Siegfried is to me a rationalistic and materialistic razing to the ground.... One of its sparks is Siegfried. This spark can and will never be extinguished. If you betray this, then you are cursed.” (Jung 1919)
While Spielrein is not often given more than a footnote in the history of the development of psychoanalysis, her conception of the sexual drive as containing both an instinct of destruction and an instinct of transformation, presented to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1912 “Destruction as the Cause of Coming To Be” in fact anticipates both Freuds "death drive" and Jungs views on "transformation”.
• Spielrein became one of the first female psychoanalysts. She received top honors in psychiatry upon graduation from the University of Zurich, and subsequently wrote 30 professional papers.• She contributed to child psychology and the origin of spoken language, and was a great influence on Jean Piaget, who underwent a training analysis with her.• She was an influence on psychologists Alexander Luria and Lev Vygotsky.
1923Sabina Spielrein returned to Russia and worked in Moscow at the Russian Psychoanalytical Institute, the Psychoanalytical Home for Children and at the Department of Child Psychology at the First University of Moscow.1933Psychoanalysis was prohibited by Stalin.1935-38Sabinas brothers were deported and executed1937Her husband died of heart failure.1942In August, Sabina and her two daughters were executed by the Nazis outside of Rostov, together with many other Jews.
Spielreinlost the love of her life and two mentors, and although she had her career as a psychoanalyst, she could not pursue it in the same way as in the past without reopening old wounds.
Freud lost someone he regarded as a son and political ally, along with the excitement and intellectual stimulation that Jung contributed.Jung lost the emotional anchors that Freud and Spielrein served for him, and he subsequently suffered his own mental and emotional breakdown.
Freud Continued to Explore Countertransference“For the doctor the phenomenon signifies avaluable piece of enlightenment and a usefulwarning against any tendency to a counter-transference which may be present in his ownmind. He must recognize that the patientsfalling in love is induced by the analyticsituation and is not to be attributed to thecharms of his own person; so that he has nogrounds whatever for being proud of such aconquest.” (Freud, 1915, pp.160-161)
Countertransference and Our Ethics Code “I feel that countertransference should retain its originalmeaning, and only refer to the therapist’s inappropriate reactions to the patient. This should not be confused with the therapist’s affective attunement and appropriate emotional reactions…Freud’s original ground rules have been for the most part incorporated into our ethical code. Our knowledge of appropriate ethical behavior and self-reflection should help most therapists to know to suppress and sublimate countertransference reactions. But since countertransference comes from unconscious needs and conflicts, we all need at times consultation, supervision, or psychotherapy."• Gordon, Robert M. (2003) “The Countertransference Controversy”. July Issue Pennsylvania Psychologist.pp 8-9.